Shopping for Video Games During the Holidays: A GameStop Guide

Pictured: people who wait too long for material things.

Pictured: people who wait too long for material things.

I was wandering around in my local mall (which, to my delight, has two Gamestops). Although I came in there for the deals (on stuff that no one else wants to buy, such as games for 2.99), I found it to be an enlightening experience regarding Christmas shopping for video games. As a recommendation to all children/parents out there, I think there’s a few rules I can provide to make your life MUCH, MUCH easier during the sometimes hectic holiday season.

Note: There are real people behind this list. If you’re on here by sheer happenstance, your name isn’t on here, so you’re safe!

Without further ado…

1. PLEASE, tell your parents WHAT GAME YOU WANT BY SPECIFIC NAME and SYSTEM. This remains the most important step. Most parents barely even know what “the Gamestop” is. Most of the people stare at a wall of PS3 games totally bewildered, not even sure if what they’re looking at is even close to what their child wants. This provides additional complications when you see a woman asking for “Grand Theft Auto”. Which one? Who knows? What version of the game should they buy? Thanks for making your parents endure a living nightmare trying to figure out which game, what system, and what version. What’s the difference between “game of the year”, “DLC”, “platinum hits”? We might all know the difference, spending entirely too long researching these things, but your parents haven’t. Put in a little legwork and write the thing down so they don’t have to waste an hour figuring out what they own/don’t own. You’ll drive them mad otherwise – just buy the one where Tommy can shoot people in the face. Which Call of Duty is that? Who could even tell the minute differences after a while? If you don’t explain, that’s what you’ll get: something you don’t want.

I should know about this: Christmas lists are specific, categorized, heavily organized affairs. Categorize by type, system, music, books, etc., and the exact name and version. It doesn’t take much work now that we have the Internet, so get to it. Wikipedia’s your friend here.

2. Employees, please know what you are talking about. I’ve seen far too many employees trying to shill the exact wrong product to an audience that can’t even understand said product. Just give the customer what they want, or tell them you don’t have what they want. It’s easier than deciphering what the heck their kid actually wants to buy, in any case. Shove something with a similar name in their face and move on – some other employee can go deal with it.

3. Recognize your audience. Don’t try to sell someone a game that comes out NEXT year. Just because GTAV comes out next years doesn’t mean someone looking for the ambiguous “Grand Theft Auto”, whichever one, is looking for a pre-order, a Game Informer subscription, or anything else. These are the holidays – they’re not the time where you speak with people familiar with game culture or vernacular. Instant gratification remains the name of the game, and if you can’t provide them something tangible that they can hold in your hands, you’ve lost a sale.

But apparently, all your big shoppers don't know anything about video games.

But apparently, all your big shoppers don’t know anything about video games.

4. When someone’s asking for an older game, it’s probably not a good idea to just type in the name of said game into your computer. When a guy comes up to the counter asking for a “portable Donkey Kong”, you know you’re in trouble. Please do NOT recommend Donkey Kong Country Returns or Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem! Why are you confusing the customer? That person knows what they want; if you don’t have it, move on. Those products do NOT play like Donkey Kong (the original arcade version) at all. However, even I could tell you that you can buy it from the DSIWare store with a Nintendo DS (the special one) or a 3DS, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. But seriously, what parent or person (especially one who doesn’t know the first thing about modern video games) would take the time to learn how to connect it, download said product, and then figure all of this out? It’s overly complicated! Just say you don’t have it and move on. Don’t try to sell them a new system, either – the guy’s looking for an NES or arcade cabinet, and you don’t have either of those. Just stop.

5. Also, when you have a person come to the counter with 5-10 used games, be nice to them. Shuffle through the giant library of alphabetically labeled games with dignity, poise, and grace. Don’t try to sell that person a used game that’s one dollars less than the new one, especially if it’s sealed – he picked that one for a reason. If they ask you whether you have the box art/manual, please fulfill their request – they’re either a collector, an eBay reseller, or they know about video games enough that manuals actually matter to them. And for the love of God, don’t give him a generic GameStop box unless you absolutely MUST and have no alternative. Otherwise, he’ll ask you kindly that you give him the box with the cover art and manual that YOU JUST REPLACED WITH THE GENERIC ONE FOR SOME REASON THAT NO ONE CAN COMPREHEND.

Mostly shopping at this hectic time of year comes down to 1. Be nice to other people; they’re your neighbors, in some way, and you don’t want to treat them like a shopper on the verge of a psychotic break. Rather, treat them like you would yourself – with respect, not resentment, and with patience, not rage. If Jesus says it, surely it’s a good rule, hm?

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him…

Mark 12:29-32

2. Also, don’t be impatient. Do that and you’ll be just fine, along with the above. As Proverbs 15:18 says:

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.

And James 1:19-20 also says much the same:

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

So there’s my shopping guide. Now get to being good little consumers and get some deals.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.
  • I think that GameStop is partly responsible for the massive weight of guilt on my shoulders for years as a gamer, always feeling dirty after buying a new game. Ironically, I haven’t felt that way since using Steam and getting most of my games through download options.

    • @Mjoshua Why the guilt? Steam just masks a similar process in that regard!

      • @Zachery Oliver I’m probably being too rough on GameStop. It wasn’t guilt about buying games. It was more like the guilt of being ashamed of being a gamer. Like imagine all you see are CoD junkies, fans of zombies, horror and violence, and the cultural mindset that playing videogames makes you immature and irresponsible. I felt like that poked at me whenever I walked into a Gamestop. But with Steam, it’s more a culture and community of grown up folk who love games and their maturation – not necessarily the other stuff.

        • @Mjoshua Ah. Well, that doesn’t seem to be true during Christmas (as the above notes). Just a bunch of confused people wandering around trying to figure out what to buy their kid. I think they know I mean serious business the moment I pop into the store and bring 5-10 obscure games onto the counter after an hours of searching tirelessly for deals.
           
          Yes, I do that.